Finding Hope this Mother's Day

We had ahead of us the MOTHER of all Mother’s Days. The stars had aligned for all significant and major events in my life to fall on this glorious day. I was finally mom. In my arms was this incredible son who had just come into my life in December with adoption and growing in my womb was a little life. After years of infertility and loss, I felt like this Mother’s Day Church service could be something for me to celebrate and share in instead of dread. The church we attended had a children’s dedication service on Mother’s Day where new moms and dads stood up front to show off their new little babes and have the church pray over them. We had invited our family intown, excited and proud to stand in front of our friends and family with our extraordinary son and share the news about my pregnancy.

After church, the plan was to attend my graduation ceremony. I was walking the stage with my Masters, having completed the program to be a Family Nurse Practitioner. I will be honest, I was nerding out about wearing a hood with my cap and gown. It felt so legit.

Standing up in front of the church that morning in my green dress, this weird thought came to me:

 “This is the same dress I wore to a wedding last year when I had my first miscarriage.”

On the way home from church I started bleeding. My in-laws and my parents were at our house and we were all getting ready to leave for my commencement. I could not shake the thought that I was losing the baby. Overthinking, I kept asking myself:

“Why did I wear this damn dress today?”

By lunch, I was cramping and the bleeding had not stopped. Instead of driving to the ceremony, we apologized to our family and drove to the hospital. I knew there was nothing the doctor could do, but I just had to know….

Is there hope?

The loveliest gift I received that day was not a card, flowers, or chocolate covered strawberries. There on the ultrasound, we saw a little bean with a little heart beat. Beating inside of me was this gift of Hope.

The pretty version of the story should stop here. The gift of hope I received that day was real and true. We did not know the grief that was hiding around the corner. Even though several weeks later we miscarried, I still look on that moment as precious. This precious reminder that there is hope to be found on mother’s day. I look back on this day and smile as I consider how  today my heart and minivan and both full.  

Perhaps this Mother’s Day, you need a gift of HOPE.  

Hope anchors us to peace. A peace believing it might just all turn out better than we can ask of imagine.

May you hold tightly onto hope today wherever you are in your journey today.

Today is your Mother’s Day too.

In bloom.png

Hello my Joy (meeting our daughter)

Veering again off the sidewalk into the neighbor’s yard, I became suspicious that something might be wrong. My simple walk to get the mail from our neighborhood mailbox was becoming a bit too difficult of a task. The harder I tried to walk straight, the more I was losing my balance. I could feel my knees start to give out as I walked up our driveway and frantically dialed Jon on the phone.  Thankfully, he was working from home and swiftly helped me inside to the couch to call our doctor.

 At 38 weeks, I had been having regular contractions almost every night for a week, but nothing had really progressed into labor. The on-call doctor was nervous about my history of low blood counts needing transfusions, we decided to be safe and get checked out at the hospital.

My blood pressure was too elevated and my blood counts low again; it was time to jump start the labor process. Jon got super goofy at this news. Started making up weird “going into labor” dance moves to try and lighten the mood. We started to get nervous and excited. We were going to get to meet our daughter soon. We kept looking at each other in disbelief. Not just the infertility we have walked through, but this pregnancy alone we never thought we would get to this point. All the scares, genetics consults, extra chromosome talk, procedures, transfusions…… we made it to 38 weeks and now its time to see what happens next.

That afternoon was us just anxiously awaiting a room. Evidently, the week before Christmas is one of the busiest weeks for Labor and Delivery. Fertile people in their crazy ways (said with love) get to “plan out” due dates and supposedly this a popular time for many in the teaching profession. We hung out in triage being monitored closely for most of the day and rolled into our delivery room that evening.

They placed a cervical balloon in right at shift change and then our journey truly began. Contractions that night were the worst; coming every 1-2 minutes for 6 hours straight. I did not know if I was going to make it. That sounds over dramatic, but it is truly how I felt. Especially when everyone kept saying “it will only get worse”. Well, that’s super encouraging to hear guys! After 6 hours of contractions every 2 minutes I could not imagine it getting worse. I was physically and emotionally drained. I mentioned to a resident how bad I was hurting, her response: oh, we usually give you a little medicine that will last an hour or two to take the edge off. Have you not had any? Do you want some?

UHHHHH YEEEESS please. How was that not mentioned to me before?!? I got a 1 hour nap and felt like a new person. Woke up for an exam to find out I was dilated to a 4 and they were going to start the Pitocin drip.

I was so worried the Pitocin contractions would be stronger and more difficult bear, and they WERE NOT. While they were strong, they came well-spaced and I found myself able to breath and rest between them enough to not feel quite the same -I want to die!- feeling as the night before. After 4-5 hours on the drip, they came and broke my water. Contractions truly started to pick up more and I was starting to feel more and more pressure “you know where.” The anesthesiologist came to place the epidural shortly after that since the nurse said I was moving fast and might lose the opportunity. I did not have a birth plan and was not sure if I would get an epidural or not. In the end, I have mixed feelings about the decision. While I am thankful for it, oh goodness I am thankful for the relief, pushing was incredibly frustrating for me. I could not figure it out. I feel like the first hour of pushing was me just trying to figure out if I was pooping, pushing or simply twisting my face into a grimace and yelling.  Wasting everyone’s time and a lot of my energy. The last hour we started making progress. We saw her hair and finally felt like we were getting closer. Labor makes your feel like a warrior. You dig in deep even when your exhausted and drained and you keep going! You know you must for your baby. I have never pushed myself that hard and pushed so far beyond what I thought I could do. Infertility gave me this unique gratefulness for labor. As maddening and difficult as it was, it was also powerful and brilliant to feel like I was doing it. Audie kept turning sideways and getting stuck on my pelvic bone. The doctor kept having to manual “go in” and rotate her while I was pushing. Labor was not progressing well. My incredible OGBYN knew I wanted to have a vaginal labor and together we kept trying for about 2 ½ hours until during one push, she sat back, looked at the nurse with those “that’s not good eyes” and calmly turned to Jon and me.

“It is time to get her out. Everything is ok its just time to meet your baby to keep you both safe. It is about to get pretty busy and crazy in here. Lots of people will be coming in to help me. We are going to get her out with an emergency C-section.”

Sure enough the flood gates opened. People swarming. Oxygen put on, more IV’s put in. We start rolling quickly down the hall to the OR. Jon is scurrying quickly behind while a nurse I worked with in PICU is so graciously staying after her shift to help him swiftly put on his OR gear.

Almost as soon as we bust through the door, they were cutting into my abdomen and holding up this amazing beautiful baby over the curtain. I cannot explain the flood of emotions to hear her cry.  My first thought “SHE IS BEAUTIFUL!” They whisked her away to the NICU team who begin to mutter how healthy she looked. NO SIGNS OF TRISOMY 13 they shout!

I heard my doctor say the words “hemorrhage” and “ruptured placenta” and knowing my hemoglobin level, my anxiety sky rockets. I looked at the anesthesiologist and told him to hit me up with some Ativan and Zofran and bring me a vomit bag, so I could throw up! My doctor saved my life. Calling for a C-section at just the right time to avoid this story having a very different ending.

Meanwhile, Jon is meeting our most gorgeous and HEALTHY appearing Audie Joy. The genetics team brought a cooler and officially whisked my chromosomally enhanced placenta away for further research and studies.  I become loopy and start over sharing our story and telling all the staff how she is a miracle while they work to stop the bleeding and close me up. I cannot stop talking and sharing her story. Jon is crying. I am crying. Nurses start crying. Our OBGYN is telling me to stop because I am making her cry too. But… of course in awkward Carly fashion I do not shut up. I just keep talking and talking. The staff in the room knows our whole story and also where to find a list of all the kids therapists and doctors appointments in case something happens to me. Over dramatic much?

It is hard to explain the passionate reaction we both experienced. For 8 months we have considered the likelihood of another child with special needs, medical needs, and worse, possible not even being compatible with life. We planned worst case and best case, and for several months best case scenario includes prematurity and lengthy NICU stay. The rollercoaster this last year was. Finding out your pregnant after 7 years of infertility, finding out your pregnancy might not last, finding out if it does last your baby might not survive, to blood counts so low it puts you at risk of mortality, to this moment where a vigorous baby is held up above the curtain and cries out a miraculous exclamation to say hello.

Hello my Joy.

IMG_0672.jpg

How we do Upside Down October

Anne of Green Gables understood the mysterious hold and power October can have on us as it transitions us into a new season; bringing with it cooler weather (hah!), fresh starts, and blooms of the physical and metaphorical.

And it brings my birthday so I will say it’s a pretty legit month.

October is also a month to advocate and shout the worth of individuals with Trisomy 21.

Join our family as we turn October UPSIDE DOWN. How do we do this you ask? (I know you did because I am that good.)

1)      Find our Facebook Page: Jovial State of Mind and FOLLOW it.

2)      All week choose ONE THING to “give up”. I give up my weekly Starbucks. You could think small like a soda or big like a whole dinner out to eat.

3)      On Monday’s at 630pm join our dance party on facebook and DONATE the money you could have spent on your splurge that week to the organization we are dancing to celebrate.

4)      DANCE!

5)      SHARE! Like the video and share it. Or share what you learned over dinner or at coffee with friends. Share what you have learned about the organization we have showcased or share about what you have learned about the ABILITIES of individuals with Trisomy 21. Share your own post on social media about #upsidedownoctober. 

Last year we had so much fun dancing and celebrating our friends who are doing AMAZING things for individuals with Down Syndrome. Not to mention Carter has some crazy dance moves that are sure to entertain.

Turn you October Upside Down!

Durham_Fam-200.jpg

Let's SHOUT THEIR WORTH!

Why we are not being awarded the title of Wait Experts

At what point do you become considered a WAIT EXPERT.  Am I alone in this feeling of sometimes it seems that I am simply lurking from one season of waiting to another? Dwelling in various periods of intermissions and waits and never fully entering the season of experiencing the expected. When you spend so many seasons in waiting, do you become an expert? Are there certificates? Perhaps a title and a name tag? Could we teach a webinar and make all the monies on social media?

The wait during Infertility can often feel more like a no than a delay (and sometimes it is a no). Or it can feel lonely. Waits create an anxious atmosphere where you begin stressing about things that might not even happen. You reside in this pause, this space of expectation, not sure if there will be an encounter with the expectation or simply disappointment. An interval between then and then, stuck in the now, without knowing what now is really all about. Waiting usually implies a delay or pause for a limited time for a definite purpose. But what if the purpose is blurry or the outcome gleam? If waiting is time of preparation or anticipating, what do you do when you do not know how to prepare or what to anticipate?

For us, we have lingered in several pauses. Spending days, weeks, and well, regarding infertility, 7 years waiting. Waiting each month during those 2 weeks. Waiting for test results. Courses with unknown time lines and unknown outcomes. 

In the adoption there is the waiting to hear back from USCIS from immigration clearance, for home studies to be written by busy social workers, for the Ukraine to approve our dossier, waiting to come home with our son after spending 6 weeks overseas. Waiting for court, bureaucracy, cps, foster care licenses, etc. 

Then you have pregnancy; waiting to meet our unborn child, anxiously for the first ultrasound, to find out we were only waiting for the inevitable miscarriage, for healing, for relief from the grief, for hope.

For each person, the wait is unique. And each person has a pause the are enduring.

 Gaps, lulls, pauses, intermissions can leave us a little flustered with how to wait purposefully and patiently. I wake up in the middle of the night from normal boring pregnancy-induced leg cramps and cannot go back to sleep as my mind starts racing. What is it all going to look like? How is it going to all work out? What if this pregnancy is the only time we have with her and I spent so much of it sick and complaining? 

Shortly after posting our latest announcement, we received a call from our genetics counselor regarding our pending blood work. Niyah was squealing and dancing at the splash pad and I had reached for my phone to snap a picture of Carter bravely swimming in the big pool with his BB (his name for grandma) only to see a hospital number pop onto the screen

"Is now an ok time for us to talk for a bit?" 

"Sure, what did you find out?" I can hear in her voice she has something heavy heading my way.

"Well...." deep sigh, "we found out why your results from the first test were so weird"

"hmmm ok" I take a deep breath and prepare for impact.

"We found mosaic trisomy 13 in the fetal DNA".

"Trisomy 13?!" I watch as Niyah reaches her hand into a stream of water. The water splashes back in her face and she squeals with delight.

"Yes, but not in all of the cells; only in some which is why it is mosaic.  With your background, you are probably immediately thinking about full trisomy 13 and I want you to remember that this case is most likely mosaic. The outcome of severity varies greatly.  It also could just be in your placenta, you know, like with confined placental mosaicism." 

"I actually don't know. I have never heard of that."

"It is possible it did not transfer to the fetus. It is possible only your placenta cells that have the trisomy 13."

"What would that mean exactly? What would be the health outcomes/viability and plan of care?" I respond matter-of-fact-ly, the switch flipped and I am in medical mode.

"In confined placenta mosaicism," she explains further,” you may have placenta insufficiency at some point, there are several studies showing low birth weight and prenatal complications. We can watch closely to make sure we see if the baby stops growing or progressing. We will work closely with your team."

"Do we need to make a birth plan? Should I call hospice? What's next?"  My mind is started to swirl. Trisomy 13 is not unfamiliar to me and I am thinking back on all the cases I have seen in my work. My mom waves from the pool motioning to get a picture of her and Carter. He is kicking in the water like a swimming-champ. My finger circles above my head for a wrap it up sign and she sees my face and knowingly nods.

The geneticist continues, "We will find out more with each ultrasound. Without knowing the percentage of cells the fetus has with the trisomy, it is difficult to know the severity of the possible health prognosis. We will look for club feet, extra digits, intestinal issues, heart defects and brain size all at the next ultrasound. For now, without further testing, we must wait. However, DO YOU WANT TO KNOW THE GENDER?"

"Yes, yes I do!"

"A GIRL!" and with that she politely ended the call with her personal email/cell to contact her if I thought of more questions later or my husband had questions. We confirmed the date and time of our next to ultrasounds and appointments and said goodbye. 

And thus, began a new wait. The weight of this pause is the heaviest I have carried yet. Trying to stay off google and forums. Trying to not worry because we are not sure what to worry about yet. The outcomes are vast. Not sure what to pray for and not sure exactly how to respond. Wanting to try and enjoy this time together.  Wanting to share in the joy of this pregnancy. Wanting to announce the gender without having to follow up with genetic conversations. Each congrats from friends and family, I find myself wondering how to respond. 

Waiting to meet our little girl, but also knowing she is here now.

Introducing and loving our Audie Joy.

Choosing to find joy in the pregnancy each day. Finding joy in the interlude. Trusting in the joy she brings now and later.  We can dillydally in the wait for tomorrow or we can live in the now of today. Dawdling about in murky waters of "then" and "then"; or kick our way over like swim-champs to now and experience the present. Maybe this is not a time of waiting for us after all, not a time for preparation or anticipation. Maybe this is the 'then" to claim, the moments to cherish and experience now. 

Today we choose joy. We claim the now and push past the wait. 

We choose Audie Joy.

Our latest YES

We have gone back and forth on when and whether to share the latest happenings in our family. A part of us holds it tight for selfish reasons. Maybe even fearful motives.

We also are so mindful of our many friends in our community that have navigated similar voyages or have met loss and pain on these roads we now travel.  I have blogged before about such announcements. How they can surprise us with emotions they can bring to the surface. How they can bring up reminders of loss or yearning. The despair we flirt with lies just below the surface and I do not want to be one to uncover it for you, I want to offer a sustaining relationship with hope instead.  We are not unaware and in no way want to seem insensitive to the many we have talked with, ministered to and even more so, forged priceless relationships with over the last 7 years of infertility.

Not to mention again, FEAR. Fear that if I share this publicly, I lose credibility to ministry, to my words. Fear. If I share this and we experience another loss, I will have to share that too. The first 12 weeks, I mentally prepared myself, every bathroom break, not to panic if I saw blood. The reality is that the two lines on a stick does not equal a promise or a guarantee of holding a child in 9  months. The words, “there is no longer a heartbeat” have pricked my heart and stolen our joy and hope twice. True, I do not want and cannot live in fear of these words; but I do realistically recognize that it can happen again. I am trying to walk this balance of being fearful and simply holding myself in check on what I put my hope in. On how in the midst of loss or waiting, we can unknowingly limit our definitions of God’s faithfulness.

God is faithful. Period. The lesson he has graciously taught me the last 7 years is his faithfulness is not demarcated by the “good things” in my life. He is faithful when there is no longer a heartbeat, he is faithful when stupid cancer takes away a last breath of a loved one, he is faithful when families move, lose jobs, get mental health diagnosis, fight, etc. This pregnancy announcement does not have the hashtag Heisfaithful, because he was faithful every time there was just one line on a pregnancy test for the last 7 years, every time the fertility medicine didn’t work.  He was faithful when we came home and grieved our lost children never held in our arms. God is faithful. The reality is not all infertility stories end with a pregnancy. But the hope we anchor to is that he can carries you through it all and redeems the story.

I took 4 boxes of tests for me to really come to terms; I might need google the number for the obgyn. I bought two different brands of test because I assumed that maybe one whole lot number could possibly be contaminated and that is why it showed a positive. The Hubs squeezed my hand tightly at the first ultrasound. Hand in hand, watching a little heartbeat, staring with amazement at the life forming inside.

You guys, I have thrown up so much. At first, I remained positive and steadfast in my optimism. “Oh this means lots of hormones! YAY!’ But by the time I ended up in the ER with fever and dehydration from vomiting every little thing I tried to swallow, I must confess I was cranky, emotional and sick of being sick. Finally, things are settling down. While my breakfast of champions is still Saltines, my appetite is growing and at last, there are signs of a belly!

Our first round of non-invasive pregnancy testing has thrown a little curve ball our way. We have met with genetic counselors and our little baby now has its owns perinatalogist. We opted out of more invasive testing, therefore, the results we can find out at this point are a bit limited. I love the team of doctors we work with at our hospital. While discussing all the possibly chromosome aneuploidies in the genetic consulting room, the doctors sat around the little round table and with sober faces confessed they could not rule out Trisomy 21 as the possible “issue”.  I could not help the smile slowly forming on my face and replied, “don’t tease me!” This left them with tilted heads and confused gazes. I brought out my phone to display pictures of our two chromosomally enhanced kids and showed them off with great pride, grinning ear to ear, sharing how they are my greatest joys.

While we may not get definitive answers on this side of things, we do get to find out more with each ultrasound and have another set of blood work pending to result soon.  We firmly believe that this life is valued, no matter how many chromosomes are eventually counted. We are honored we get to be mom and dad.  At first, we wondered, is this different from Carter and Niyah? Is it different when it feels like there is no choice this time? BUT WE ALWAYS HAVE A CHOICE. The choice whether to move forward in fear or in knowing that we want to try to offer our best for this child. To offer our hearts fully. And we choose YES. The same way we did with Carter and Niyah.  This little life deserves and gets our yes. We choose to hand over our hearts in the face of fear. Little surprise baby- you get our yes!

When we falsely interpret fear or unworthiness as the permission to say NO, we miss out on the abundance in the YES.

So we decided to go ahead and share with you our latest YES:

We are pregnant with Baby Durham #3

 

 

 

 

How we lost our minds and decided to launch a live video series

Curled up on the plastic pull out couch beside her crib, my mind whirled and raced, I could not sleep. Not because I was freezing, to incompetent to work the thermostat in her hospital room (which I swear to you is simply for show and to give me the illusion of power). Not because of the ever-alarming heart monitor, beeping me into panic as Niyah's baseline heartrate is so low that when she drifts into deep slumber it hoots and chirps calling someone to her crib to poke her just enough to raise her rate to stop the alarming but not so much to wake a sleeping baby. But sleep is impossible because my mind keeps dwelling on the face of a little boy with Down syndrome I saw on social media that morning. A 3-year-old, waiting in the foster care system for his forever family. He has been waiting for a permanent family for over a year.

It haunts me because this was my Niyah. Waiting. Waiting for over a year. Facing 3 surgeries alone. Not learning to walk or learning to eat orally. Getting the bare minimum to survive but never the opportunity to thrive.

Who will be this little boy’s advocate? Who will curl up freezing next to his crib? Who will panic at his alarming monitors? He deserves that. He is worth it.

My motives to blog, speak and post vary. Sometimes, I post because my kids are so cute that I obnoxiously think everyone wants to see them (which you do). Sometimes the motives are monetary, especially when we were fundraising for our adoptions.  Often it is because I feel I owe you pieces of our story since so many of you encouraged, funded, prayed and supported us over the years. Sadly, it is sometimes in pursuit of my own fame and glory (I pray earnestly against this before I press publish on a post but I am human).

Today it is for Alijah, the little boy waiting for over a year, for the 400,000 children in foster care, more than 100,000 of them are waiting to be adopted.  Today I am motivated by the well over 100,000 orphans in Ukraine, many with special needs.

This leads me to share with you a big announcement. The Hubs and I are hosting a LIVE (Yes I know that is crazy scary) 4-week series on special needs adoption. This May, we will gather together, once a week, to have a conversation about adoption. The how, the why, the cost, the good, the bad, the life-changing. Plus, since it is live, you will no doubt get to witness a magical awkward-Carly moment and be privy to the ridiculous nature that only Jon can deliver and still be charming. How can you miss that? 

Have you ever thought about special needs adoption? What does it cost? What is the first step? Where to adopt from? What does it look like? Why does it matter? Already adopted and looking for resources or community?

Join the conversation.

How to participate:

1.    Like our Facebook page: Jovial State of Mind

Here is where you can stay up to date as we finalize the time and details of the series.

2.     Share about it!

Invite your friends to join. The more people the better. Let's start to conversation. Stay tuned on the Facebook page for more shareable images to be released but for now, consider sharing this one:

 

3.    Ask a question.

We will welcome live questions during the event but you can also submit your questions here. If you have a specific question, someone else probably has the same one. Be vulnerable and ask. Submitting questions or topics you want to hear about early will ensure we have the resources available to share with your guys. Submit question here:

Name *
Name

 

This is going to be pretty epic. My prayer is that it might help one family consider growing by adopting a waiting child or encourages at least one family who already has adopted a child with special needs and is looking for community.

Or maybe it helps Alijah.

Join us in dreaming big 😊 Or at least join to watch us make fools of ourselves. Either way it will be fun. 

We almost said No

We chose this. Our world is wonderfully upside down by choice. Also, not so much by choice. Where we creaked open a door just a smidge to peak in, God swung it wide open. Of course, we could have said no. NO is an option. Sometimes it’s an acceptable option. I wish I could tell you we didn’t consider it. But we talked about it. What a NO might look like. How it might be easier, cleaner, less stressful and not demanding as much of us daily.

Our social worker called about a little girl needing a forever home. I wanted to say yes. I desperately needed my heart to want to say YES. At the same time, I understood the impact of a NO. Honestly, there were plenty of logical reasons for a NO. Isn’t it funny how you can always seem to find reasons to support your No. The biggest driving force for our NO was fear. I was scared.  For our marriage, for our son and selfishly, for myself.  I am all game for self-care but I also greedily grave self-indulgence. Not to mention, it might be hard and for sure it’s going to make life a bit more messy and complicated. Could we do this? Again?

I tell this back story not for accolades. There is no tribute for saying yes. The YES is the tribute. I share because I think sometimes I give people the false impression that we were not scared. That we did not pause. That we did not have one of the worst fights of our marriage the night before we committed to moving forward.

When we falsely interpret fear or unworthiness as the permission to say NO, we miss out on the abundance in the YES.

Ultimately, mid-fight, we looked at each other and almost started laughing. We knew.  

“Someday we are going to think it was crazy that we ever considered NO or that NO might be better.”

We were right. Only a year later, I look at my little love snuggled into my arms and know this abundant YES was better than we could ask or imagine.  One year of hard, messy, complicated and yet beautifully abundant YES.

To the expectant mom, feeling hollow with the idea of NO as the doctor solemnly explains to you how your little precious one has a chromosomal abnormality called Trisomy 21. It’s ok to be scared. It’s understandable to grieve. And I totally appreciate feeling unprepared or unworthy.

When we falsely interpret fear or unworthiness as the permission to say NO, we miss out on the abundance in the YES.

May you be given the gift to say YES.

To the couple considering foster care, feeling burdened by the logistical and heavy NO. There will always be reasons, even often respectable ones, to lean into the negative space. You will never be fully prepared (although you should still go to all the training 😉) and the fear of a broken heart seems almost inevitable.

When we falsely interpret fear or unworthiness as the permission to say NO, we miss out on the abundance in the YES.

May you be given the courage to say YES.

To the mama of her child with extra special needs; when your life is hectic, overwhelming and flustering; sometimes you feel like saying NO. Not today. One more call to insurance, another appointment, finding for the umpteenth time lost glasses/hearing aids/orthotics, stimming and tantrums you are not sure what to do about, basically feeling like you are never doing good enough. The weight of worthlessness and, let’s be honest, sometimes selfishness, might make you want to shut down and put off the work that needs to be done for you kid.

When we falsely interpret fear or unworthiness as the permission to say NO, we miss out on the abundance in the YES.

May you be given the strength to say YES.

Wherever you are today, whatever NO is challenging you. I am praying you find your abundant YES. One year ago, we almost let a crazy NO keep us from knowing our daughter. In one yes, we were given abundantly more than we could ask or imagine.

The infertile friend

As I scroll down my Facebook feed, I freeze. My eyes fill with tears and I wrinkle my nose to thwart their impeding cascade down my cheeks. I shut my laptop and walk away. Mad. Happy. Sad. Ashamed. Confused. Wishing a single post did not hold the power over me that it does.

She is pregnant. An adorable pregnancy announcement on Facebook just confirmed my suspicions. I already knew on some level. The last time she saw me she kept asking “how are you?’ with a tilt of her head and raised eyebrow. Over the years, I developed an uncanny prego-radar.  It helps that people usually give it away with how suddenly they feel awkward around me or even avoid me altogether.

You see, I am the infertile friend.

At this point, my friends are on baby #2, 3 or even 4. The announcements are growing less and less and many of my friends feel their families are finally complete. I remember a season where I would look at my hubs and lament “is seriously everyone pregnant?!” That was also the season where I would bulk buy pregnancy tests from medical supply companies. Now under the bathroom sink sits an unopened box that I haven’t used in years. I am in a different place but somehow that announcement post surprised me. My reaction caught me off guard.

I hate that my barren womb is such a joy sucker. I hate that my friends feel like they must be nervous to tell me. I hate that when they do tell me, while I have great joy, I also go home with a fresh reminder of my grief. My wait. I hate that I walked out of a baby shower last year when the mama-to-be was complaining about pregnancy symptoms (she has the right to complain to her friends - growing a human inside of you is kind of a lot of work). She was tired, constipated, stretched and simply ready to meet her little. I heard those complaints and felt like Frozen’s Elsa had just shot an icy beam to the heart. I kept thinking; "I would take all the hemorrhoids in the world and how I long for morning sickness, or if only I had killer gas that could clear a room." I don’t know if I really meant those thoughts, but in that moment, I set my coffee cup on the counter and snuck out the door without a single goodbye or piece of cake. (I was in my right mind enough to grab a shower favor, those damn shower cookies are melt-in-your-mouth-divine).

Or that baby shower where everyone began to share labor and delivery stories. In college, I used to binge watch that show “Baby Stories” on TLC. I loved a good labor story. Enough medical drama to feed my medical obsession yet still a story about the power of being a woman and the remarkable way we give life. My friends swapped details and then suddenly all eyes began to dart nervously back and forth at each other and then toward me, quietly trying to signal “what about our infertile friend.”  The stories abruptly stopped as someone awkwardly proclaimed, “It has rained so much this week.” Sly transition, you guys.

See, their hearts are trying to watch out for me. And I feel like they are in a catch 22. If they don’t tell me before they announce it on social media, they run a risk of hurting my feelings. If they call me or tell me in person before they announce it, they run the risk of hurting my feelings. If they talk about pregnancy or labor at a shower, I could complain they are being insensitive.  If they don’t share the updates and details, I might possibly accuse them of treating me differently.  The reality is, I want to hear the story about my friend delivering her own baby in the car on the way to the hospital as much as we all do. Who cares about the rain?! Don’t transition away from that goodness.  

I recently asked on my social media account, which way other women in the midst of infertility prefer to find out about pregnancies from friends. The answers were all over the board. Some felt that they did not want to be treated differently than any other friends you were just going to have seen your FB announcement. Others said they felt more respected when friends made a call to share the news privately with them before going public. However, one theme ran deep in every response. Even though we might encounter a reminder of the loneliness of our journey, we have great joy for the new life you are announcing. We are genuinely happy for you. Us not sharing in your joy stands opposite to our hearts desire. Because if you did not have this announcement to share, that means you are now in our infertile friend club too. While we are an incredibly welcoming, supportive group, we do not seek or desire new members.

I also asked the fertile ladies what it’s like on the other side. Are they nervous to tell us their news? Specifically, I was so afraid that my grief was stealing from their joy. Gracious, beautiful women with miraculous, egg-making ovaries shared that they simply want to respect our grief. Respect our struggle. Grieve with us.

I wanted to write a blog that would help our fertile friends share their news and might help my fellow club members share in their joy. But you guys are already doing that. We are all trying. We are trying to grieve together. Celebrate together. Share in new life. Despair over lost life.

Bitterness sneaks in when we forget to invite grace into the conversation. When we assume the friend making her pregnancy announcement has not seen or shared in our grief. When we assume that our friend will not share in our joy or would not want to know the latest update. The best way to dismiss assumptions is to humbly voice our intentions and bravely share our fears. And then smother the whole mess with GRACE.

Have grace for the silent exit at a baby shower, for the awkward conversation transitions, or for the text or phone calls asking “how are you?” Extending grace for the tears that gleamed in my eyes as I genuinely exclaimed Congrats! I am hanging out in the tension of joy and grief. Thanks for trying to meet me in that space.

 

 

 

Hello Daughter

Sitting in our car in front of your current foster house, we knew it be different this time. With your brother, we jumped in. The Ukrainian orphanage director placed a precious bundled baby into our shaking arms and we chose love at first sight. But really, we had no idea. We did not know how this love grows. How it cultivates your heart and flourishes through your veins. We chose love in that moment, but we didn’t quite understand the gravity. We were beautifully naive.

Now we know. Yes, we will choose love at first sight again, but this time we know depths and richness of the love ahead of us. The idea that we are about to meet this love again is exhilarating but also a bit petrifying.

We are here to meet our daughter.

We wait eagerly for our social worker and your CPS social worker to park alongside the curb behind us and we all begin to get out of our cars. The slam of car doors behind me jolts me into action. It is time.

Invited in, we are escorted to the living room couch by three of your home health nurses, your foster mom and dad, our social worker, and your CPS social worker. It’s a full house. One of your nurses brings you over to us. Your hair pulled up in messy puffs and your delicious chubby arms squeezed tightly in the sleeves of your pink polka-dotted dress. And YOUR THIGHS. Those squishy delightfully-rolly thighs deserve their own essay. You sit in my lap and I awkwardly try to find the best position where I can see you and you can still see your people and know your safe. I long to wrap you up, hold you close, cheek to cheek, or even sneak off into another room where we can talk alone, without all these inquisitive eyes. I am nervous they are judging my reaction. Did they expect tears? Do they think me not crying is a bad sign?  They are asking us questions about your brother, our home and us. Being judged, watched, considered and all while trying to say hello to you. One nurse is sharing how she taught you to call her mama. My mind zooms and heart races, longing to contest. Insecurity rises. I am thinking too much about them. Stop. This moment is about us.

Hello, my daughter.

The interrogation team fades a little more into the background as your beautiful almond eyes gaze curiously at my face and your sweet chubby brown hand takes hold of my fine hair. You have met so many people in your life who promised you care and love for the last 2 ½ years in foster care.  I respect and welcome your inquisitions. You can ask me or of me anything.  I understand your guard is up, but for you I will let mine down.

You warm up to the idea of potential new playmates. We ask the social workers if we can take some pictures. With their blessing, the camera is out and you transform into diva super model. Hands to hip. Pose. Blow kisses. Dad bravely leans in for a kiss and you pucker out your sweet lips. SMOOCH.  A kiss to steal your father’s heart.

We play, sing, and make funny faces. Your giggle makes us giggle. We talk with your nurses about your favorite toys and songs. Your tube feeding schedule, sleep patterns and milestones you have met. They attempt to tell us about all things you. I love learning about you. I want to know everything but I cannot know it all. I will never know it all.  2 years of you that I cannot truly have back no matter how much paperwork I read or stories I hear. The adults talk while  your weight sinks back against my chest and you relax more in my arms. This pressure on my chest, on my heart, brings with it a reassurance and surge of hope. God will restore those years for us. He will rebuild our hearts. You see, this love, deep and rich awaits us.  We may not share those 2 years, we may not share blood, instead we begin the journey of a lifetime of sharing hearts that will leave both of us never the same.  You are no longer a foster child; you are our child.

Hello, my daughter. 

 Waiting outside the foster care house

Waiting outside the foster care house

Our Adoption Story

We wait as our babies grow in our hearts instead of our bellies. Our hearts grow and grow, much like in pregnancy, until we are stretched out, uncomfortable, with a bit of heartburn, and feel like we could burst. I hold strong to the notion that adoption hormones are a real thing. While I'm binge watching The OC, crying about Ryan being taken in by Sandy, eating a whole pint of salted caramel gelato, you better not try to say otherwise.

Last August, Hubs and I agreed we were ready for our hearts to grow for a second time through adoption. We discussed all the many ways to adopt and after an amazing orientation by Gladney Center for Adoption, we signed a commitment to start the journey of domestic infant adoption.

We started down a path. A typical domestic infant adoption. Any adoptive family reads that sentence and laughs at the irony.

To find out the rest of how the story went please check out our story featured at:

http://www.fosterthefamilyblog.com/foster-the-family-blog-1/write-your-heart-out-adoption-story-carly

 

Upside Down October

Fall days are here friends and there is no better way to celebrate its arrival than having a campaign for Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

During the month of October, our family would like you to join us in celebrating all our chromosomes by advocating, donating, and learning about four amazing organizations that have a huge personal impact on us. 

Here is how you can join the fun:

1. Follow us on Facebook and IG: @nurseicarly!  Each week we are highlighting an incredible organizations that impact individuals with Trisomy 21 AND personally impacts our family.

2. All week keep checking in as we will be posting ways you can learn more about them, donate to them, or volunteer with them. 

3. Now for the challenge: Give up one drink or splurge that week (soda, starbucks, beer, etc) and donate the amount you would have spent on the splurge to that week's organization. It might seem small but if enough people do it it can be BIG.

4. Join us on Friday night for a LIVE  (this terrifies me) dance party on Facebook to celebrate and remind you to go make your donation. Feel free to post and share what you gave up. We want to thank you for being our people and making an impact.

Our world got wonderfully turned UPside down with our two amazing kids and we are so excited to advocate and shout their worth with you.

 

Let's turn October UPSIDE DOWN.

Choosing Hope: Adopting Baby D #2

 Photo credit: JensineLee used with permission

Photo credit: JensineLee used with permission

 

When we were preggo this last round, we received some advice to hold on to hope.  Each ultrasound we heard a beating heart, our hope beat stronger in our chests. We called the baby Hope.  The day finally came when I miscarried. After hearing the news, I fidgeted with the crinkly paper on the examination table, watching the the hubs twist his lips to the side. We were both not quite sure how to react this time. You would think we would be pros at hearing this news. Yet somehow you don't gain this skill. The skill of hearing there is no more heart beat. If it is a skill, I really don't want to get anymore practice at it at this point. In true, Awkward Carly fashion, all I could do was make a completely inappropriate joke about losing hope.  It was so bad that my sweet doctor walked awkwardly backwards out of the exam room with an "ok then."

Sorry Dr. L! Haha I don’t do well with sad moments and just insert inappropriate humor.  (Also Dr. L is not in reference to the fictional Dr. Lahiri from The Mindy Project, although it is a pretty sweet coincidence that it is also what I call my OBGYN.)

A couple months ago we started growing restless on how we grow the D family. I dream of a big family. I want brothers and sisters for Little Man. I want the mini-van awkwardly full.

I can picture it: Climbing all up in the minivan, buckling all my busy-crazy-but-so-freakishly-adorable-children in safe, knowing we are all going to be late to school and work. The phone tucked between my chin and shoulder, talking to my sister-in-law while I work to strap them down and wipe off copious amounts of snot. I complain to her for a moment about how much work it is raising these hoodlums. She rebukes me kindly, reminding me of how I prayed and longed for each child. I have this dream you see… 

I tracked my ovulation a bit more, lingered over reecesrainbow and handofhelpadoption’s waiting child list, and looked up orientations for adoption agencies. We even emailed about a specific child on a waiting list at one point and the door quickly shut. I was frustrated that growing our family takes this much thought.  I noticed the re-emerging of jealousy I have to those who get knocked up 1 or 2 months in and never have to think about these things. Never having this pressure or responsibility. Not having to to over think the ethics of fertility treatment, adoptions and process the insecurites that come with infertility. To think that some people just have themselves some sex and get pregnant. Boom. Babies. Drop the Mic. 

 I thought I had come to a point of contentment with how God grows our family but this struggle placed a spotlight on my hidden dark places and revealed that I do indeed have room to grow in my trust in him. Conviction. Thankful for it. No place for bitterness and I don't want it rooting in my heart so I was glad for the light to expose it to get it out.  I know this. But it is good to be reminded and humbled.

Can I hold onto the hope that he can do immeasurably more than I could ask or imagine? Can I choose to hope that even if the D family doesn’t grow and the answer is NO, that he is still good?

We are choosing Hope.

We are excited to announce we are adopting through the Edna Gladney Center with a domestic infant adoption. We will be waiting to be chosen (matched) with a birth mom and start walking a journey together as we wait for baby to be born and then beyond. Beyond holds hope.

We are doing a another shirt fundraiser for this adoption. If you feel led to be apart of this story and get a shirt, we have returned to our trusty-amazing team at bonfire funds and they designed us a legit graphic tee.

Click the picture for the link.

Buy a shirt.

Share if you feel led.

 

At the heart of this adoption we are leaning into Hope. Not hope in an adoption but a Hope in something bigger. That his ways are better. Can you hope with us?

Abide Family Center: Because Children Deserve Families

Adoption and orphan prevention are both integral parts to holistically caring for the orphan. Johnny Carr convicted me with his words in Orphan Justice: “Man made orphanages for children, but God made the family for children.” There are those of us who will choose to grow our families through the journey of international adoption. Then there are those of us, like Megan Parker and Kelsey Neilson with Abide Family Center, who will choose to travel the ocean to discover the root of the orphan crisis and what can be done to prevent the social orphan from becoming another number in the system.

While in country for our personal adoption, I became aware of my limited view of orphan justice. Meeting these precious institutionalized children, I began to dream about what it would look like if we could turn the country we were in upside down in their structure and beliefs and help equip and encourage interested families to keep their babies with special needs in the first place. I stumbled across the cutest Instagram feed of a little boy #hotmessMoses at Abide Family Center, and I realized I had found someone who shared a similar dream but for Uganda. And the best part was she was actually living it out! I am excited to have the opportunity to share my interview with Kelsey and spread the word about her heart and work for at risk children and families.

 

Check out the interview with Kelsey at Adoption.com

A Jump into Mama-Love

I really have nothing to compare it to, I imagine though, this is the story of mama’s around the world. Whether our babies grew in our hearts or our wombs. Whether we share blood or share souls.  I am learning we are all immersed in the beautiful mystery of Mama-love.

We actually were not supposed to have our meet cute that day. The courts, paperwork, notaries; it all was backed up. Not to mention we were learning that times and appointment here were really mere suggestions. There was always time to stop for coffee or breakfast. Even if it was 8:00 am and you appointment was at 7:30 a.m. your driver wants to stop for an espresso and we had decided to embrace these caffeine emergency delays because more than likely your judge, translator and social worker might actually be at the same coffee car outside the building doing the same thing….

 

Continue reading the rest of this story at Adoption.com

2014 in review

2014 flew right on by and we are now entering "the year of the hover-board".
I like to spend a little bit of time at the end of the year in reflection. The first time I did this was here, for 2012, helping me create and seal some precious moments in that I would otherwise be unable to recover years from now. So let's look back at some of the biggest moments of 2014.


2014
A year of Hope, Hope Lost, Gratitude, and Grace.


January was our first full month home with Little Man. Quite a chunk of that time was spent battling RSV at Texas Children's. We were thrown head first into parenting. It challenged me to let go of expectations and control. I made the decision right there to not take for granted one second of the new gig I have been given. No matter what. 


In February, we started at The Rise School of Houston. 
Game Changer. 
The teachers and therapists at this school are one of a kind, helping Little Man reach his potential. He loves it, I love it and they, of course, love him. 




We spent Easter weekend in Boston visiting Aunt Courtney, Crazy Uncle C and sweet Cousin Abigail.    

The Ducks were wearing Ukraine and DS awareness colored scarves. They must have heard we were coming to Boston.

Best Friends in the making!


Spring came and brought with us Little Man's first birthday



What many did not know, is it also brought us another pregnancy. As Little Man blew out his candles (Ok, you caught me, really we blew them out), I had sweat beads of morning sickness nausea dripping down my neck. The flame flickered out and I pictured us doing this again at his birthday next year, with a baby in our arms. We were the cliche - we were that story that always gets told to adopting couples - we got pregnant right after an adoption!

In the summer, I graduated as a Family Nurse Practitioner and some how passed boards. Grace! An adoption and grad school might be tricky for some, but not if you are surrounded by the incredible family and friends that I have. As family gathered to celebrate, I started to have signs and symptoms of a miscarriage and we ended up at the hospital instead of the ceremony. Instead of walking the stage, I was given a different gift:
I watched a baby's heart beat within me for the first time. 
Hope had been conceived.
 The next couple weeks we hung onto hope. Each appointment with a flickering heart made my hope grow stronger.


We lost Hope the end of May.



May, June and July were hum-dinger months for Little Man. We got our senses up and going! Tubes were put in the ears, glasses were prescribed and he got his undescended testes brought down! Then to really end the summer with a bang, we had a couple of health scares. Including a rushed ER trip with the car flashers on and me, embarrassingly, hanging my head out the window, flailing my arms screaming for people to get out of our way. Because acting like a maniac in tense situations helps. 
Kidney function concerns, frustrating MRI's, and a couple blood tests later we confirmed Little Man is healthy, happy and thriving. He just had a terrible kidney infection. Once we found the right antibiotic, he healed right up. 
He is tenacious and brave. 


We finally made it to Midland in August. A trip to Mimi and Papa Jack's house after a hectic summer was just what the doctor ordered.




Catching up with old friends. I still can't believe we are old enough to have kids. 


Fall brought pumpkins and teeth.  Little Man loves words that start with d and p and laughs hysterically at them. He brings such joy. He is a gift in so many ways and our lives are way better indeed. He also got a mouthful of teeth; it seems like overnight. We woke up one morning to a cute-giant-toothy grin! 



Fall also brought us an attempt at IUI.  The D's made it a family affair. We even awkwardly met up with Crazy Uncle C in the hospital lobby. 

All of us in the exam room right before the procedure.

 How funny would it have been to say Little Man was there for his brother/sister's conception? 
To be honest, I never really thought it was going to work, I just felt like I needed to try it so I wouldn't regret not having tried it later. Surprisingly, this failed attempt did not rock me the way I feared it might. It might also be because right after the Big-Fat-Negative-news we entered Winter.

Winter brought such a season of gratefulness. Thanksgiving 2013 was spent eating crackers on an orphanage couch with Little Man. To have him in our home, in our arms, crawling around, babbling up a storm this year was overwhelming. 




Thanksgiving 2013 vs. Thanksgiving 2014
Basically, everyday I had a "this time last year" moment that would almost move me to tears. Instagram followers were probably annoyed with all my #tbt cheesy posts. I couldn't stop myself. I was stuck in a sentimental cloud for most of November.
 We are a family. And on Dec 13, we celebrated with our friends and family that we are indeed "Forever a Family." 
His RISE teacher made it to the Forever a Family celebration.

Once again, we move into another year without the "gift" of pregnancy. There were a couple days of lost hope in 2014.  Literally and metaphorically. Our hope was due in December and due dates can be daunting with miscarriages. But Christmas came and reminded me Hope did come to the world. Our long awaited HOPE is already here.



At an Ellie Holcomb concert I was reminded: Hope is Alive




Thankful for Grace. During the last couple of years, there have been people in my life who have stepped up to the call. They provided resource, encouragement and friendship in astounding ways.  I move into the new year asking God to stir my soul, to make every bitter thing sweet as I hunger for him, and to open my eyes to how I can now be an encouragement those around me. 


We enter another year asking God to redeem our loss. And if you have read much on my blog, you know he does time and time again. 
2015 and Martin McFly, Here we come!

He is walking hand-assisted.  In 2015, we are definitely gonna be strolling or hover-boarding, either would be pretty cool.



Do remember me


A couple weeks ago Little Man and I were cruising into town to go to RISE and jamming to our usual PAGE CXVI, in hopes that it would lull him into a deep travel slumber. Instead it was me that got lulled into a deep travel sob. One of the lullabies was Do, Lord an old hymn. Tears leaked from my eyes and stuck to my cheeks as the song words swirled throughout the car begging to be remembered.

Do you remember me?

Have I been forgotten?

Infertility has the trick of making you feel broken. Lying to you that the reason you can't get/stay pregnant is that you are broken and God does not want to fix you. You have been forgotten. I laid on the couch at 9 weeks pregnant already on bed rest with a subchorionic hemorrhage. We were not of to a good start. A group of friends gathered around and "laid hands" on me to pray for me and baby. This is awkward for me. The denomination I grew up in did not do this much. I feel silly. I doubt. I am cynical. I wonder. And in that moment I desperately searched my heart and genuinely asked God to help me overcome my disbelief, begging him to remember me.

That night I miscarried.

Do you remember me?

"O God my rock," I cry, "Why have you forgotten me? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies?"

Thanks David for finding the right words. Here I am, wandering around in grief and oppressed by my damn old ovaries! Betrayed by my own body and mind, acting as my oppressors. 

If there was one thing I would say to someone wandering around in similar grief:

YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN

God loves you. AS IS. Do no let infertility whisper this lie to you anymore. The answer is 100% yes.
 He remembers you. 
He is the rock you can stand on during this whole journey. He is the one that will remind you of your great purpose and worth with or without pregnancy. He is the one that will redeem your infertility and make it into a story about him pursuing YOU to be a part of his kingdom.
I have been there sister, loved by God. I know the darkness and distrust that can take root. I began to not trust God. Not trust him with my prayers. I began to fear the worse. I needed to be reminded and then I stumbled across this video:


   

   

   

   

   

   

   



Mornings with Little Man

Effortlessly cool while mom tries too hard. 


Many changes happen when you become a parent. Dinner, going to the store, getting ready for bed, these activities take on new shapes and routines. My morning routine is wonky. I still haven't worked out all the kinks.

Pre-Little Man Morning:
Jump up at first alarm - I hate snooze
Run if there's time,
Start the coffee
Shower
Blow dry hair
Sip coffee while putting on make up
Take a moment to check mail, FB, instagram
Get dressed- probably change outfits once or twice
Prepare my over-priced flaxseed whole-grain waffle with almond butter
Load car,
Listen to NPR and feel smart and up-to-date while driving to work 
Get to work 10-15 mins early.

Simple. No fuss. No rush.


Little Man Morning:
Hear Little Man get up at 4:30,
Pretend that I don't hear him yet and try to sleep another 30 mins praying he too falls back asleep
I am desperate for a snooze button now
Hear Little Man getting even louder
5:15 find him sitting up in crib looking at me sooooo sweet
Change the fullest diaper ever- this kid can pee - A LOT.
Take the sheets off the crib and put in wash- he peed through the diaper
Make him a scrambled egg and extra-fatty-dietitian-ordered smoothie
A mix of feeding and very supervised self-feeding goes on at this point
Attempt to start a pot of coffee
Make his lunch. which stresses me out every day. I am so worried about not sending him enough or sending him something he will choke on
Clean him up - somehow there is egg in his hair and his diaper
Set him in front of Baby Einstein where I now have exactly 20 mins to get myself ready
Shower or rewet my hair
Pretend my hair is curly and try to scrunch it with assortment of miracle curl-making gels
Swipe some eyeliner and mascara on
Throw on first outfit I find in closet
Load car with lunch pail, back pack and undrank coffee
Dress him while he attempts to eat my hair
Help him hold the bottle of almond milk he is trying to guzzle down
Load car
On the road by 7:20 or traffic will win the war its rage against me
Put on Toddler Radio or Page CXVI lullabies (Don't even mention the phrase "Science Friday" to me right now, I miss Ira like I miss a dear friend)
Get stuck behind stalled vehicle
Sing Wheels on the Bus for 45 mins. He really like it when the people go Up and Down. 
Get to school and attempt to put shoes and glasses back on that were taken off and thrown during the drive causing a scene in the parking lot.
Disheveled, slobber in hair and snot on sleeves we enter the doors of  Rise School



These changes while sometimes frustrating can also be the BEST part of my day.  Little Man is a morning person. He greets me with the absolutely cutest grin and cuddles in between ripping the glasses of my face. When we sing together he reaches for my hands to bring them to his cheeks, excited that I am there and singing his favorite songs. And we all know how I feel about two piece pajamas…..

Why did I wait so long to get up and hang with him? 

These moments are so temporary. Soon I will be handing him a sippy cup and telling him to eat breakfast by himself, longing for the days where he needed me to help him more but proud of his growing independence. One of my friends wrote a birthday blog for her precious boy who turned one last week. One sentence stuck out as she tried to encourage other moms of children with special needs:

"….you will get to enjoy your baby a little longer. And when they do hit those milestones you will celebrate like you won the lottery."

In our case, enjoying our "baby"even longer has brought me such joy as we missed the first 8 months of his life. Each milestone that I get to be there with him for has been like winning the lottery. Soon…. he will be two. Our frustrations, challenges and morning routines will look different.  Hidden in those challenges and routines will be the best moments a mom could ask for if I take the time to be fully present for them.  As we enter the season of "1-year ago today" moments….. I know I will be bombarded with the memories of getting his referral picture, getting the call with travel dates, first meeting, first time he feel asleep in my arms, first smile, etc. In one year my world has changed so much. Overwhelmingly wonderfully different. What will our life look like next year?

Have I mentioned he is the CUTEST BABY IN THE WORLD? 

This is our new "kisses" face. He is puckering up his lips asking for a kiss.  I mean…. you cannot withhold smooches from that face!!!
He fell asleep in the store-brand diaper. This is no good. NO GOOD. This definitely means a change of sheets in the morning. AHHHH but that little boy is one precious sleeper.




Chew on this: Meet the cutest eater ever

Eating/Drinking has been quite the adventure for us. But even if he hasn't always done it well- he has alway done it oh-so-cute!
Feeding in U was so scary. He only got 1/3 of each feeding and was struggling with aspiration.

Many international calls to our on call Speech Path Aunt Courtney for help.

He is a champ at pureed food. And now he can even sign "more".

At around 14 months we finally got down the pincher grasp and starting picking up bites of food ourselves. We are slowly upgrading and are now chomping on bananas, itty bitty bits of chicken, yogurt melts, pasta bits and puffs. Strangely he loves plain Quinoa. I know this list is only going to get bigger and bigger.


 We still have not been able to figure out the sippy cup. The honey bear makes an appearance at every meal and we make some grand attempts which usually results in him spitting water everywhere.


Spoons are also an excellent teether. 

Either side does the trick.


He chews cute my friends. Old man face is one of my favorites.

Showing off how well he eats broccoli. Veggies are better than fruits to this guy. Still having to puree quite a bit but I have figured out some easy go to meals to help save time and money. Those food pouches are awesome but that add up with your kid is downing 12-16 oz each meal. The fridge is overflowing with steam-ready bags of frozen vegetables. Microwave those bad boys and toss in the magic bullet = instant meal. Then add quinoa as a side is; heaven to Little Man. He might be a vegetarian. I keep asking him about it but he has yet to give me answer for now. He probably just doesn't like labels you know. Allowing room for him to change his mind later if he wants :).


Chomping on my pizza crust at dinner. He would not let me take it out of his mouth and placed a death grip on my hand.

Every week I am amazed at his milestones. He loves food. Is crazy about it. OBSESSED. 

How the D's do infertile - Part 2

What to do with infertility?

Where is "How the D's do infertile Part 1?" you ask. Come on guys- you know this story- we ended up in the Ukraine!! 

I meet with my doctor next week to reconsider our options. I am very unsure about what to do next. I am very nervous about getting pregnant again. I want it but then I don't.  During this last pregnancy, I think we all felt there was no way we would lose another, not to mention it was just cliche to get pregnant right after an adoption. :) Right?!? When I think about how it all played out…….
All said positive. Fear can make you feel not so positive about it though.
Fear creeps in.

What if it happens again
Can I handle it?

But what is next for the D's? What to do with infertility?

When we finally (it sure is embarrassing how long it took) asked God what we should do about it last year we were given a clear answer to adopt. Now I am waiting for another answer. 
It is so simple to try and label infertility as bad. Cause it SUCKS. While reading "Anything" by Jennie Allen, I came across a story of a young lady who has been given more the her fair share of what the world would label bad (abandonment, disappointments, abuse, etc) and her response:
"You have to thank God for the seemingly good and the seemingly bad because really, you don't know the difference."
I can relate to that. While this now 4 year journey has left me with many days and nights of tears and confusion it also has brought me incredible moments of truth and clarity. Truth about God's love for the Hubs and I. Truth about His Glory. Truth that is seen in little man every day. I don't know if Infertility is good but I have seen how God can redeem it to be good. 

Can I trust God with my infertility?

I am trying. 


Please prayer for our family as we once again hand over this issue and pray God uses it to bring Him glory. Who knows where the D family will end up this time?!?! 
Truth moment #1029: First family photo in the Ukraine.
Struggling with identity and worth…. {BUT THEN GOD}….. Now calm in His calling and love.